Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett have announced that Erika H. James will assume the post of Wharton’s dean, effective July 1, 2020.
According to the Wharton website, James is looking forward to the change: “This is an exciting time to be in business education. The scope and platform of the Wharton School provides an opportunity to create far reaching impact for students, scholars and the business community.” James will be Wharton’s first female and first African American dean.
James has served as dean of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School since 2014. While in that post, she spearheaded an endeavor to build an entrepreneurship lab for all students at the university, as well as increasing the size of the faculty by 25%. James headed faculty and student workshops, which included themes like unconscious bias and building trust across divides, concepts that are becoming more important to business schools. She also increased corporate engagement by establishing a research-based corporate think tank. James’ efforts led to a major overhaul of the undergraduate business curriculum, which now combines immersive learning, technology, and collaborations with Emory College’s liberal arts curriculum.
Prior to her position at Goizueta, James was the senior associate dean for executive education at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. She worked closely with faculty to redefine executive education and lifelong learning prospects. She was also an assistant professor at Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business and a visiting professor at Harvard Business School.
James received her PhD and master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pomona College of the Claremont Colleges, in California.
She is an active member of the SurveyMonkey Board and the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Before that, she held a position on the board of the Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business, the premier accrediting organization in business education. James has been named one of the Top 10 Women of Power in Education by Black Enterprise and as one of the Power 100 by Ebony Magazine.
James is most likely the only dean to have been the subject of a case study. The 2008 study explored the life and career of an associate professor and portrayed her as “a successful professional, a loving spouse, an adoring parent, physically fit, emotionally upbeat, socially polished, and seemingly cool, calm, and collected.”
Wharton’s current dean, Geoff Garrett, will take over as dean of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.
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